I always knew I had a good mom. Seriously--for as long as I can remember, I knew that she loved me, I felt safe with her and I've had fun with her. I never even went through that phase that most teenagers go through where they're embarrassed by their parents. How could I be embarrassed by someone who was so universally loved by my friends? When I was teenager, my mom was very much one of my best friends, and I always knew I was lucky in that.
But as I've grown up, I've come to appreciate her even more. Not just because as we become parents ourselves we have a better appreciation for the sacrifices that parents generally make, but because I've become more and more aware of parents so unlike my own. By the time I hit the last few years of elementary school I realized that I had a much more stable home than many, if not most, of my peers. But as an adult, I've come to understand much better, through some of those I love, the pain of having a parent you can't turn to or rely on, or even talk to. I understand the bitterness of knowing that a grandparent is missing from your child's life because they're simply too toxic to be a part of yours--the sadness of knowing that these precious little people who are a part of you don't even know the person who raised you (or should've but failed to). Its a strange disconnect.
My heart was a little divided the last few days as I watched my three little redheads play with their wonderful grandma and bask in the glow of being with her. I was filled with excitement to watch my uber-shy 15 month old pick up a book and walk up to Yaya and asked to be picked up and read to. I couldn't help but giggle as I saw my 4 and 5 year old running wildly toward the airport terminal yelling, "Yaya!!!" with smiles a mile wide. I laughed as my daughter spent the entire day before her grandma's arrival absolutely bouncing off the walls because she just couldn't contain her excitement. I grinned at the grandparental indulgence when my daughter and mother emerged from Target (where they had supposedly been looking for sunglasses) with a brand new Disney DVD (well, she didn't have Snow White in her Princess movie collection yet, after all).
All that joy and happiness and gratitude was bubbling over, while simultaneously feeling little tugs on my heart for the people I love who lack that blessing in their lives. My gratitude for my mother isn't just a way of expressing appreciation for her, its also a way of acknowledging and remembering those of you who don't have that joy with your parent, or maybe never did. It somehow feels that it would be unfair to all of you if I didn't soak up every little bit of joy and gratitude and wonder at this marvelous blessing in my life. You are never far from my heart in these moments when I recognize my blessings. You are wonderful parents to your little ones--keep focusing on them. Many of you have already become the parent you wish you'd had, and if you stay on the track you're on, you'll be that grandparent pushing your grandson on a swing at the beach or blowing raspberries on your grandbaby's belly, and that little wild thing you have at home now will be that young parent standing to the side and smiling a mile wide, grateful for your presence in their life and in their children's lives. Know that your struggles and heart aches are not unnoticed or forgotten, and live with hope. I love you all.